Apple Profits From Decade-Long Supply Chain Labour Exploitation

Apple Cash Trend 2015
Apple Cash, Cash Equivalents and Marketable Securities
2006 to March 2015 (US$ billions) – Source: Apple Annual and Quarterly Reports

Apple Inc. is the richest and most iconic corporation in the world. In 2010 Apple became the most valuable brand, with an 84% jump in brand value to $153.3 billion. By March 2015 Apple’s revenue was up to $212.2 billion, while in February 2015 Apple attained a market capitalisation of $770 billion, nearly double that of ExxonMobil, Google and Microsoft. Apple’s large profit margins have contributed to a cash hoard of $193.5 billion, which means that the company has more cash on hand compared to cash balances of most industries in the United States combined. In a stark illustration of how extreme inequality disfigures operations in global value chains, Apple’s abundant wealth ultimately rests on the suffering of young workers in electronic sweatshops where human rights, labour standards, environmental safety, and business integrity are routinely ignored.

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Supply chain migrant worker exploitation

Fresh Food Supply Chain Worker Exploitation
Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Supply chains that deliver everyday products to our fridges and tables can link unsuspecting consumers to labour and human rights abuses. Supply chain transparency is a better answer to the issue of worker abuse than “cracking down” on visas, which can make workers more vulnerable to exploitation.

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Supply Chains of Australian Fashion Retailers at Risk of Exploitation

supply chain protest
Protests against garment factory owners and their threats and intimidation of workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Sk Hasan Ali/Demotix/Corbis 

Australian fashion companies lack transparency around their supply chain or do not have full knowledge of where their raw materials are being sourced from, leaving workers including children at risk of exploitation, an audit has found.

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Tackling the Myths Around Child Labour

While the movement to eradicate child labour has gained significant pace, there is still a lot of ground to be covered and work to be done by companies and investors in conjunction with trade unions and NGOs, writes CSR researcher Martijn Boersma from Catalyst Australia.

In its latest report, Catalyst Australia examines the efforts and collaboration of global unions, NGOs, companies, and investors in dealing with child labour in global supply chains.

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Global supply chains link us all to shame of child and forced labour

The fragmentation of global production has dramatically increased the length and complexity of supply chains. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that more than half of the world’s manufactured imports are intermediate goods. These are used as inputs in the production of other goods, sourced from different parts of the globe.

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The Latest Research Report by Catalyst Australia

Child_Labour

At first sight child labour may not appear to be a material issue for Australian companies and investors. However the fragmentation of global production and trade has dramatically increased the length and complexity of supply chains, which can lead to lack of oversight and worker exploitation. The global movement to eradicate child labour has gained significant pace over recent years. Increasingly, global unions and NGOs collaborate with companies and investors to find ways to deal with the risks of child labour in global supply chains. This report looks at those efforts.

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